Secret things to do in London
London’s practically on everyone’s travel wishlist and for good reason too: it’s home to landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. But for those who’ve already conquered most of TripAdvisor’s Most Recommended, this city’s also filled with undiscovered spots for you to veer off the path of touristy attractions.
There’s no need to worry about getting from place to place either - we used Klook’s London Travelcard which includes unlimited travel on public transport modes.
From a secret beer tour to an all-pink restaurant, here are 10 secret things to do in London:
1. Have a neon light photoshoot
Housed in an industrial warehouse zone out of the city, God’s Own Junkyard isn’t your regular neon light cafe. It’s the motherload of all neon lights, with every corner flickering with fluorescent lights. While we’re used to exit signs and those of the basic variety - think “eat, pray, love” and “do what you love” - the signs here are seemingly random in nature.
But before you get carried away with the neon light photography, rest assured that it’s not all just for IG: they’ve also got a casual eatery towards the back too called The Rolling Scones.
It has quite the extensive food menu that’s perfect for a light lunch - savoury bites like Avocado Stacker (£9.50, ~S$16.70) and cocktails from £6.50 (~S$11.40).
You can pay to lug back one of these neon signs back to Singapore.
Heads up: you can only use your phone camera to shoot - no professional camera gear allowed.
Address: Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow E17 9HQ (Nearest train station is Walthamstow Central)
Opening hours: Fri to Sat: 11AM-9PM, Sun: 11AM-6PM
Telephone: +44 20 8521 8066
2. Go for a secret beer tour
Whether it’s pub crawls or glitzy clubs, it’s hard to beat London for its drinking culture. We went on a Secret Beer Tour and our welcoming local guide showed us the best drinking holes in the city.
The groups are kept small - ours had no more than 8 people - and together, we traipsed through the alleyways of London. Local pub, secret rooftop bar, even a microbrewery where we had a chance to sniff and taste the barley and hops behind brewing.
Our guide was friendly enough to describe the taste of each brew we tried, and taught us how to properly appreciate a beer. Hint: take small sips for maximum tasting notes. In the grand span of 3 hours or so, we chugged down tried a variety of 7 different beers. Here’s everything we tried:
- Knees Up APA 4.2%
- Lucky Penny Pale Ale 4%
- The Citra in the Rye, English IPA 4.7%
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alcoholism, 4%
- Little Creatures Pale Ale 4.2%
- Roshville Red 4.8%
- Bethnal Pale Ale 5.5%
One of the more memorable ones were the Lucky Penny Pale Ale for the light crisp flavour and the malty Citra in the Rye.
Meeting place: Shoreditch Grind Coffee Shop (Nearest train station is Shoreditch High Street Station)
Book your Secret Beer Tour with Klook.
3. Sing karaoke in a laundromat
While Singapore has plenty of KTV parlours, they’ve got nothing on London’s Karaoke EPOC. With a massive sign that spells out “De-Luxe Cleaning”, the storefront looks unassumingly like a laundromat - one that churns out freshly laundered clothes daily.
Browse through Japanese manga in the basement
But take a step in and you’ll be shocked: it’s simultaneously a bubble tea joint...a Japanese bookstore filled with manga...and finally, a karaoke joint.
The rooms aren’t anything to shout about, but grunginess aside, there’s undeniably a cool factor going on. Authentic Japanese karaoke machines and a solid song list is what sets this karaoke joint apart.
A whole list of Japanese songs but we were searching for top hits from the 2000s like Bowling for Soup’s 1985 and Jesse McCartney’s Beautiful Soul
But be prepared to fork out a fair sum for this - prices range from £16 (~S$28.10) to £77 (~S$135.40) per hour, but of course, it’s all dependent on the size of your group, chosen room, and peak hour timings. You can check out the full price list here.
The only way to know if you’re at the right place
Address: 30 Brewer Street, Soho, London W1F 0SS (Nearest train station is Piccadilly Circus)
Opening hours: Mon to Sat: 12PM-11PM, Sun: 12PM-10PM
Telephone: +44 20 7437 5238
4. Dine in an all-pink restaurant
As far as iconic restaurants go, sketch London’s a dining landmark that comes armed with a Mayfair postcode - similar to the fancy restaurants in our Dempsey Hill area. It’s not as inaccessible though, since it’s just a short stroll from Oxford Circus train station. Technically, it’s not merely 1 restaurant but 4, each having their own special decor and menu.
Our favourite was The Gallery, an all-pink restaurant that looks like a blend between a Wes Anderson film and a retro art gallery. For dinner, the menu is a concise one-pager but you’re bound to find a dish that piques your interest.
We tried the Beef Fillet (£32, ~S$56.20) - a medium rare steak done perfectly, especially when paired with a smear of chestnut puree. Those looking for a lighter meal will enjoy the Poke Bowl (£17, ~S$29.90), a vegan take with a colourful array of fresh vegetables.
The Glade, an intimate bar tucked behind heavy velvet curtains, is also worth hitting up for the ambience. It’s all fairytale-like and woodsy with sweeping forest murals and vibrantly-coloured armchairs. The cocktails here sound just as fairytale-like with names like Goodbye Kiss and Spring Blossom.
Goodbye Kiss has a blend of vodka and bergamot liqueur while Spring Blossom pairs gin with elderflower tonic
Both are priced at £16.50 (~S$29).
Don’t forget to visit London’s most Instagrammable toilet too: their toilet cubicles are housed in egg-shaped pods with rainbow lighting
Address: 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG (Nearest train station is Oxford Circus)
Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 7AM-2AM, Sat: 8AM-2AM, Sun: 8AM-12:30AM
Telephone: +44 20 7659 4500
5. Admire a panoramic skyline view from London’s highest building
London’s filled with towering skyscrapers and historical buildings alike - you’re in a city that’s infamous for its skyline. While there are a few scenic viewpoints scattered around, it’s the view from The Shard that offers the best vantage point. After all, it’s the UK’s tallest building with a mighty 96 floors.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll get to peer down famous sites from the 72nd floor, like Tower Bridge and the London Eye.
There’s also a bar so you can enjoy a glass of champagne when taking in the views.
Tip: Tickets are flexible through Klook and valid for 30 days - you can choose a day with good weather for the best views.
Address: Railway Approach London SE1 9SG (Nearest train station is London Bridge)
Opening hours: Summer - Mon to Sun: 9AM-10PM, Winter - Sun to Wed: 10AM-7PM, Thu to Sat: 10AM-10PM
Book your panoramic skyline viewing from The Shard with Klook.
6. Watch a film at a pop-up themed cinema
Theme: Snow Kingdom
Image credit: @backyardcinema
Not many of us would consider watching a movie when overseas: it only happens when you’re clean out of new activities to try. But with Backyard Cinema, it’s one you’ll be eagerly jotting down in your travel itinerary. Watching a film in one of their setups is a completely novel experience - it involves themed decor and secret pop-up locations.
Their current theme till mid-August 2019 is L.A. Nights: it’s decked out with a cocktail bar and palm trees for summer beach party vibes.
Theme: The Last Chapel
Image credit: @backyardcinema
Their screenings are a mix of cult classics and new Hollywood blockbusters, with films like Clueless and Captain Marvel. Tickets start from £18.99 (~$S33.70).
Telephone: +44 20 3773 9075
7. Visit the newly opened Gringotts Wizarding Bank
It’s no longer a secret but the Harry Potter Studio Tour London’s newest addition is a sight to behold: Gringotts Wizarding Bank, with its lavish finishings and thoughtful detail. The full impact hits when you first stroll in - the Bank’s grand columns framing the hallway and a massive glass chandelier looming from above.
One memorable highlight of the new set? The realistic 3D animation of an angry dragon. This setup plays out in a clearing: it’s larger-than-life with puffing smoke billows and you can almost feel the scorching heat of the flames.
We also thoroughly enjoyed peering into Bellatrix Lestrange’s bank vault - over 210,000 coins were created for the movies!
But you don’t have to be a hardcore Potterhead to enjoy the Studio Tour: they’ve got plenty of interactive activities and gift shop supplies for all to enjoy. With real-life movie sets like Diagon Alley, Dumbledore’s Office, and the Great Hall - it sure makes for a fun day out.
Address: Studio Tour Drive, Watford WD25 7LR
Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 9:30AM-10PM, Sat to Sun: 8:30AM-10PM
Telephone: +44 345 084 0900
Tickets often sell out fast so be sure to pre-book your Harry Potter Studio Tour London with Klook - it even includes round trip transfers!
8. Have cocktails at an underground toilet bar
London’s filled with abandoned toilets from the Victorian era, but Ladies & Gentlemen is one such retired lavatory that’s transformed into a thriving underground bar. You’ll have to head down a flight of stairs before entering what looks like a dingy hideaway, but really, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
The interior looks nothing like an antiquated toilet of yesteryear. Instead, it’s a cosy, modern space with intimate seats and industrial decor.
From left to right: Full Del Monte, Tiki Blinders, V For Victory, and Garden Seller
The cocktail menu is solid: a range of thoughtful concoctions, ranging from the tart flavours of Tiki Blinders to the refreshing sweetness of Garden Seller. The latter was a distinct favourite, with a splash of gin, elderflower, mint, and interestingly enough, edamame.
All cocktails are priced at £9 (~$S15.80).
They have 2 bars: one located at Kentish Town and the other at Camden Road - all info written is based on the former.
Address: 2 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London NW5 1NR (Nearest train station is Kentish Town)
Opening hours: Mon to Thu: 5PM-12AM, Fri to Sat: 5PM-2AM, Sun: 5PM-12AM
Telephone: +44 20 7813 7562
9. Visit an abandoned train tunnel filled with street art
Image credit: @krzys.ko
Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel isn’t the easiest to find: you’ll have to walk through a somewhat derelict alley before the entire tunnel comes into full view. But it sure is worth it, for that colourful burst of street art all around.
Image credit: @fabietto_na
It was world-famous artist Banksy himself who revived this abandoned tunnel by first blasting a spray can upon these walls for The Cans Festival - the street art festival of 2008.
The tunnel’s like an art gallery that constantly refreshes itself - it’s the one place in London where graffiti is “legal” so you’ll see plenty of street artists at work here. Whether fantastical swirls or colourful pop art, strolling through offers up a mix of different art styles for you to admire.
Address: Leake Street, Lambeth, London (Nearest station is Waterloo East)
10. Go for an underground tour of The London Dungeon
Image credit: Klook
We involuntarily shuddered when we realised that The London Dungeon was on our travel itinerary. Having read on Klook that it wasn’t for “the faint of heart”, it got us thinking we might not make the cut. But boy, what an experience it was.
Everytime you turn a corner, you’ll meet a thrilling “surprise”
Image credit: Klook
Realistic theatrics, special effects, and even a plunging drop ride at the very end - the full tour lasted around 110 minutes but flew by so quickly. In fear of spoiling the tour, we won’t get into the nitty-gritty details but it’s ultimately it’s a walkthrough live show that features London’s dark past. You’ll also be meeting infamous British personas like Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper.
While there’s no photography allowed whatsoever - any light source will detract from the experience itself - you’ll be able to purchase printouts from various photo op stations.
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, London SE1 7PB (Nearest train station is Waterloo Station)
Opening hours: Mon to Wed: 10AM-5PM, Thu: 11AM-5PM, Fri: 10AM-5PM, Sat: 10AM-6PM, Sun: 10AM-5PM
Telephone: +44 20 7654 0809
Book The London Dungeon with Klook.
Things to do in London with Klook
Browsing the racks at Primark or strolling through Hyde Park: that’s all well and good but open your eyes - London’s filled with gems hidden in plain sight. From a karaoke hideout disguised as a laundromat to guided beer tours, it’s a city that offers unconventional experiences.
Thanks to Klook, our itinerary was as packed as our luggage bags - filled to the brim, that is.
Flash your Klook voucher to redeem a London TravelCard at the airport or any National Rail Station
We used Klook’s London TravelCard to get around - it’s much more convenient than scrabbling around for loose change at the ticketing counter. If you roughly know what and where your activities are, you can also select your chosen range of different zones - for us, the 7 Day Travelcard for Zones 1 to 3 was the perfect fit to get about central London.
Another convenient travel hack is to use Klook’s Heathrow Express Ticket, which gets us from the airport to central London quickly. Trains depart at 15-minute intervals!
You can also squeeze in a quick day trip to Paris when booking through Klook: their Eurostar Train Ticket between London and Paris gets you there in just 2 hours. Your e-ticket will be sent through instantly to your email - remember to print it out for easy boarding.
And since we were travelling to different countries, we rented a 4G WiFi Egg for Europe so we stay connected across the entire Eurozone.
Tip: Book the Eurostar early for Klook’s Early Bird Fares - they’re almost half the price of a regular ticket.
You can also save up to $100 off your next getaway with Klook! Use these codes:
- <ESCAPE8> to get 8% off Klook activities*, min. spend of $150
- <ESCAPE10> to get 10% off Klook activities^, min. spend of $400
*Capped at $30.
^Capped at $70.
See what else you can get up to in the UK here:
- 5 Non-Touristy Places To Visit In London
- 10 Instagram-Worthy Spots In London
- 5 Low-Cost UK Cities To Explore
- Trans Siberian Railway Guide - Singapore To London By Train
This post was brought to you by Klook.
Photo credit: WenLin Tan.